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Widespread Smoking Restrictions Start in NYC

April 7, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ No butts about it, New York City’s smokers are now officially prohibited from smoking in many of their old haunts.

″No Smoking″ signs went up across town Wednesday as restaurants and other public places moved into compliance with the city’s new anti-smoking law.

Mayor Edward I. Koch and Dr. Stephen Joseph, city health commissioner, hailed the new law on its first day.

″We’re protecting the health of the people of the City of New York,″ Koch said as he posted a sign depicting the Big Apple and a crossed-out cigarette at the Tapis Rouge bistro on Duane Street.

Jean Goutal, the bistro’s owner and a former smoker, said he likes the new law and may expand it to all of his 65-seat restaurant. Currently, he has set aside half his tables for non-smokers, as the new law requires.

The measure restricts smoking in workplaces, restaurants, hotels, theaters, large stores and taxicabs.

Employers and businesses have begun to comply, although Joseph said enforcement won’t begin for two months. Koch said that would give smokers 60 days to quit ″cold turkey.″

There was no grace period at the New York Post, which has snuffed out smoking in all its offices.

″It’s going to drive people mad,″ said Marie Cundari, a city desk assistant who planned to leave the premises every few hours to smoke.

″You feel like you’re in school. Then, you snuck into the bathroom and if they smelled it, you were in trouble,″ she said. ″It’s horrible.″

Tensions also ran high among some restaurant owners.

″I have customers who’ve come here for 25 years and they are on a certain table. Now, they say, ‘If I cannot have my table, I’m not coming,’ ″ lamented Andre Soltner, owner of Lutece. ″How can I please everybody? It’s a nightmare.″

Alan Nussbaum, owner of Club 1407 in the garment district, said: ″My complaint is that it’s the restaurateur’s job to become the policeman.″

Gregory Camillucci, general manager of the Russian Tea Room, which phased in separate sections over the past three months, said most of his customers are understanding. ″I guess maybe it’s the flexibility of good old New Yorkers.″

Smokers still light up wherever they please at the Philip Morris Companies. The law exempts tobacco businesses, including an annex of the Whitney Museum in the Philip Morris building.

″In that area, common courtesy and accommodation and consideration will prevail,″ said company spokesman Steven H. Weiss.

Philip Morris is mailing city businesses more than 81,000 pamphlets detailing the new law, as well as some 225,000 booklets to smokers’ households. ″We’re going to continue to let smokers know that you can still smoke in New York City,″ Weiss said.

The literature says smokers have the green light in private, enclosed offices; enclosed areas of restaurants, hotels, motels and convention halls being used exclusively for a private function; bars; restaurants with 50 or fewer seats and retail stores that accommodate fewer than 150 people, if they post signs saying it’s permitted; and in other specially designated areas.

Smoking has been limited in all city buildings since June 25, 1986, when the mayor issued an executive order.

When enforcement of the new law begins, businesses that fail to comply can be fined from $100 to $500. Individuals can be fined $50 per violation.

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